Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Recordings

Il sogno di Scipione: a new recording from Classical Opera

With this recording of Mozart’s 1771 opera, Il sogno di Scipione (Sicpio’s Dream), Classical Opera continue their progress through the adolescent composer’s precocious achievements and take another step towards the fulfilment of their complete Mozart opera series for Signum Classics.

Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

Schumann and Mahler Lieder with Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau, now out from Linn Records, following their recent Schubert Winterreise on Hyperion. From Boesch and Martineau, excellence is the norm. But their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels

Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

"....In lieblicher Bläue". Landmark new recordings of Hans Werner Henze Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge and Kammermusik 1958 from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin, with Andrew Staples, Markus Weidmann, Jürgen Ruck and Daniel Harding.

Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

Premiere Recording: Mayr’s Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (1797)

No sooner had I drafted my review of Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto,

A Verlaine Songbook

Back in the LP days, if a singer wanted to show some sophistication, s/he sometimes put out an album of songs by famous composers set to the poems of one poet: for example, Phyllis Curtin’s much-admired 1964 disc of Debussy and Fauré songs to poems by Verlaine, with pianist Ryan Edwards (available now as a CD from VAI).

Giovanni Simone Mayr: Medea in Corinto

The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to Giuseppe Donizetti.

Matthias Goerne: Bach Cantatas for Bass

In this new release for Harmonia Mundi, German baritone Matthias Goerne presents us with two gems of Bach’s cantata repertoire, with the texts of both BWV 56 and 82 exploring one’s sense of hope in death.  Goerne adeptly interprets the paradoxical combination of hope and despair that underpins these works, deploying a graceful lyricism alongside a richer, darker bass register.

Gramophone Award Winner — Matthias Goerne Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge

Winner of the 2017 Gramophone Awards, vocal category - Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach - Johannes Brahms Vier ernste Gesänge and other Brahms Lieder. Here is why ! An exceptional recording, probably a new benchmark.

Véronique Gens: Visions from Grand Opéra

Ravishing : Visions, Véronique Gens in a glorious new recording of French operatic gems, with Hervé Niquet conducting the Münchener Rundfunkorchester. This disc is a companion piece to Néère, where Gens sang familiar Duparc, Hahn, and Chausson mélodies.

John Joubert's Jane Eyre

Librettists have long mined the literature shelves for narratives that are ripe for musico-dramatic embodiment. On the whole, it’s the short stories and poems - The Turn of the Screw, Eugene Onegin or Death in Venice, for example - that best lend themselves to operatic adaptation.

Through Life and Love: Louise Alder sings Strauss

Soprano Louise Alder has had an eventful few months. Declared ‘Young Singer of the Year’ at the 2017 International Opera Awards in May, the following month she won the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

A Master Baritone in Recital: Sesto Bruscantini, 1981

This is the only disc ever devoted to the art of Sesto Bruscantini (1919–2003). Record collectors value his performance of major baritone roles, especially comic but also serious ones, on many complete opera recordings, such as Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Victoria de los Angeles). He continued to perform at major houses until at least 1985 and even recorded Mozart's Don Alfonso in 1991, when he was 72.

Emalie Savoy: A Portrait

Since 1952, the ARD—the organization of German radio stations—has run an annual competition for young musicians. Winners have included Jessye Norman, Maurice André, Heinz Holliger, and Mitsuko Uchida. Starting in 2015, the CD firm GENUIN has offered, as a separate award, the chance for one of the prize winners to make a CD that can serve as a kind of calling card to the larger musical and music-loving world. In 2016, the second such CD award was given to the Aris Quartett (second-prize winner in the “string quartet” category).

Detlev Glanert : Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

Detlev Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch should be a huge hit. Just as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana appeals to audiences who don't listen to early music (or even to much classical music), Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch has all the elements for instant popular success.

A Falstaff Opera in Shakespeare’s Words: Sir John in Love

Only one Shakespeare play has resulted in three operas that get performed today (whether internationally or primarily in one language-region). Perhaps surprisingly, the play in question is a comedy that is sometimes considered a lesser work by the Bard: The Merry Wives of Windsor.

A Resplendent Régine Crespin in Tosca

There have to be special reasons to release a monophonic live recording of a much-recorded opera. Often it can give us the opportunity to hear a singer in a major role that he or she never recorded commercially—or did record on some later occasion, when the voice was no longer fresh. Often a live recording catches the dramatic flow better than certain studio recordings that may be more perfect technically.

Karine Deshayes’s Astonishing New Rossini Recording

Critic and scholar John Barker has several times complained, in the pages of American Record Guide, about Baroque vocal recitals that add instrumental works or movements as supposed relief or (as he nicely calls them) “spacers.”

Knappertsbusch’s Only Recording of Lohengrin Released for the First Time

Hans Knappertsbusch was one of the most renowned Wagner conductors who ever lived. His recordings of Parsifal, especially, are near-legendary among confirmed Wagnerians.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Recordings

Steven Mercurio: Many Voices
12 Nov 2006

MERCURIO: Many Voices

Conductor Steven Mercurio appears to have made a highly favorable impression on singers in his career so far (some of the following info comes from his website, http://stevenmercurio.com/).

Steven Mercurio: Many Voices

Sumi Jo, Andrea Bocelli, Gino Quilico, Marcello Giordani, Ana Maria Martinez, Rolando Villazon, Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Seven Mercurio (cond.)

Sony Classical 82876872272 [CD]

$14.97  Click to buy

Six of today’s best singers (if gentle OperaToday readers will gracefully acknowledge at least the enormous popularity of Andrea Bocelli) perform on the Sony Classical release of Mr. Mercurio’s compositions for voice and orchestra, Many Voices. Soprano Sumi Jo sings two of the 7 selections, with soprano Ana Maria Martinez taking the only other piece for female voice. Besides Bocelli, who wrote the texts for two pieces, two other fine tenors appear: Marcello Giordani and Rolando Villazon, who takes on the 20-minute plus “Serenade for Tenor and Orchestra.” Baritone Gino Quilico brings a darker hue to the remaining of the seven selections.

Whatever personal or professional qualities drew these singers to make their talents available to Mr. Mercurio cannot be evaluated; the music doesn't present much vocal challenge, except for a few moments of almost operatic rhetoric. Many of the compositions feel like efforts in the genre of “easy listening,” with little dynamic variation, a tendency to slower tempos, and string-heavy orchestrations. The aforementioned website describes Mercurio’s association with Gian Carlo Menotti, and his love and respect for Puccini - certainly understandable. However, his music feels like a much later generation of the style of those two more esteemed composers. The music especially has a trait of seeming melodic without actually developing any memorable melodic material.

The review copy provided no texts (or attributions for the authors). The opening piece, “A White Rose,” can serve as a good example of Mercurio’s taste. John Boyle O'Reilly’s short love poem is an almost too tasteful tribute to amorous yet romantic love. Mercurio sets it as if it were a Hallmark card sentiment, with the “blush” of erotic attraction a distant suggestion.

Whatever the quality of Bocelli’s text for “Desiderio,” it does inspire some more dramatic music form Mr. Mercurio, and Bocelli himself gives evidence of the attractive tone and pleasure in singing that have earned him so much popularity. Marcello Giordani sings another Bocelli text, “Paternita,” where Mercurio’s orchestration has more than a faint resemblance to Canteloube’s “Bolero” from Songs of the Auvergne.

Most of the selection are not much longer than a typical pop song, but the final track, “Serenade for tenor and orchestra,” goes on for over 20 minutes of neo-Straussian (Richard) waltzes, with lurches into unprovoked climaxes. Villazon sings handsomely but indicates that his English is not at the same level as other operatic languages he has mastered.

If just one number stayed with the listener, enticing frequent revisits, the opera world could be glad to have a composer who knows the value of melodicism and heartfelt emotion. It’s all well to respect the greatness of Puccini. Following in his footsteps, however, seems to mean staying forever in the master’s prodigious shadow. That’s where listeners will find Many Voices.

Chris Mullins

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):